10/27/11

ADHD Awareness Week

“The simple words said...by a boy with ADHD, ‘My thoughts are like butterflies. They are beautiful, but they fly away.’ After treatment he said, ‘Now I can put a net around the butterflies.’”
-Edward M. Hallowell M.D., and John J. Ratey, M.D. Delivered from Distraction (pg. 57)

I hoped to write a post last week to celebrate ADHD awareness week http://www.adhdawarenessweek.org/ but a sick bug took me by surprise. And so a very merry belated awareness week to you!

With this blog I hope to discuss strategies that help me manage my inattention, but I also want to recognize the strengths that accompany ADHD.

Throughout middle school, I assumed that those of us who weren’t the best students wouldn’t amount to much. Despite support from my parents, I, as a thirteen-year-old kid, couldn’t grasp how I could ever catch up to those who As came so easily to. Instead of starting a foreign language with the other students in my 7th grade class, I was placed in a classroom with other students with learning differences to encourage our study skills. While in theory this was a good strategy to address our strengths and weaknesses, it also alienated us from the rest of our grade.

Over a decade has past since that class. During that time, I’ve succeeded, throughout high school and college, in learning Spanish. Although I don’t use this language on a daily basis, I recognize it as an example of what kids with ADHD and other learning differences can achieve. But, to do so, you have to teach yourself to settle down and overcome the frustrations that come with learning these new skills.

For tricks to help you focus see this post: Surviving Life (& Middle School) with ADHD

I can identify with the quote at the top of this post, spoken by a young boy with ADHD. Throughout your life, you’ll meet people who don’t understand ADHD—teachers, bosses, friends, and acquaintances. I’ve met my share of people who, when discussing my ADHD, have joked, “So you used to be a spaz?” Well, I guess in some senses “yes” and on fun days, when I’m not managing my monkey mind, I still am.

While it's important to teach yourself “put a net around the butterflies” and cope with your learning differences, it's also important to recognize what's special about those butterflies and not stifle the energy that is deeply a part of you. Through this balance you'll achieve what others can, without losing yourself in the process.
The butterfly garden at the Bronx Zoo.



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